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BSoUP Meeting - January 2002

by Andy Clark

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Available light by Pat Morrissey

How many of us can show good examples of images taken in available light? How many have stepped off the back of charters without strobes? And how many will make the effort and adjust their 'mindset' to shooting in available light after Pat's 'enlightening' input on an underestimated technique?

A simple but effective format, Pat took us on a virtual dive to illustrate what can be achieved.

Be serious about shooting in available light. It's a question of 'mental status', Pat told us. 'Prime' yourself and you'll find it easier to shoot. Play around, but keep it simple. 'See the picture, get the composition and let the camera do the rest'. He's right too as his images prove - perfect reflections (Pat's favourite), silhouettes, sunbursts Try and capture those sun rays. Play around with shutter speeds, use the existing conditions and try and get that natural look. Shoot through mediums - water to air con achieve some amazing abstracts.

At 6 and 8 metres Pat offered atmospheric images of a Sudan cave and a diver on a wreck and offers, 'try and isolate the light measure it and bracket'. And on the subject of large wrecks.. 'You'll never light them with strobes, so why bother?' Pat wants you to wander around his shots - 'it's a little trickier at depth ... but you'll find the film picks out more detail that you can actually see', as the black and white images show. They give a 'documentary feel' and at 40 metres where torch beams 'grow' to become sabres the whole scene has a somewhat eerie feel. But what does it all boil down to? Easy: Leave your strobes behind, achieve the 'mental status', play around but keep it simple, push your film - it'll take the abuse, be inspirational and look for abstracts, but more importantly (if you eyesight is failing), buy an Ikelite light meter, it has big numbers!

Focus On - Your Best Pictures of 2001

An impressive (and comprehensive) start to the 2002 Focus On series, with the invitation to submit and display your best 2 images of 2001 enticing 34 entries. An admirable exhibition of marine life and photographic technique - anemones and starfish, rays and sharks, macro, wide angle, flash, natural light, colour and mono. In 4th place with 26 points - Anthony Holley. In 3rd place with 34 points - Anthony Holley with a nicely captured handful of batfish taken on Agfa Scala, aperture priority F8. 2nd place with 50 points went to Tony White, with a pretty amazing Indonesian crinoid shrimp with almost alien-like qualities shot on Velvia with 105mm, + 4 dioptre and ring flash. But with 53 points and taking Ist place - Alex Mustard with a masterly specimen of split level photography, a solitary ray and clear blue sky at Sting Ray City. Perfect!


Saudi Arabia, Gibraltar and the British Virgin Islands by Mike Ballentyne

If you've yet to decide on this years dive destination, Mike Ballentyne offers some first hand experience on a trilogy of (overlooked?) aspirations that may just influence your decision. Perhaps the most unlikely, Mike offered Saudi Arabia to be 'very different', but also offer excellent diving. The limited tidal range rewards astounding visibility and an abundance of colourful marine life. The combined size of France, Spain and Germany, Saudi presents diving, marine life and wrecks enough to tempt us all. But as Mike explains, they are not always accessible - the 'authorities' often ban diving and/or photography and some of the best sites are in prohibited areas - you may have to resort to 'smuggling' your camera to dive sites. If success is with you the rewards are great but don't expect large fish - spear fishing is popular and the results evident. If you work in Saudi, try and get some diving in, but the lack freedom to dive and photograph does little to entice the majority.

Gibraltar may be your preferred option, with shallow reefs and and an underwater cave system to volunteer those different photographic subject of stalagmites and stalactites, haloclines and
crystal visibility. Out to sea the conditions are not too dissimilar to that of the UK with similar marine life and similar photo opportunities (macro). But if you fancy rummaging around the many anchor points you may be lucky enough to collect a little piece of history - bottles, clay pipes and uniform buttons from many a sailor over many a year. If that doesn't appeal, just enjoy the local hospitality, the excellent cuisine and the cheap booze!

If you fancy something a little more exotic, the British Virgin Islands a afford value for money and wholesome dive sites. Expect 4 dives a day, a night dive, nitrox availability and a little sympathetic treatment for the underwater photographer (indeed one of the dive centres is run by a BSoUP member). The reefs are all within a twenty minute boat ride and many 'surplus' WWII ships were scuttled here offering refuge for the array of marine life and a myriad of underwater photo
opportunities. Take advantage of the resident barracuda and the flamingo tongue cowries and get that wide?angle lens going. The visibility, although variable offers good light penetration at 35 metres
and the life at that depth is comparable to that in the shallows with sponges and flatworms. The islands extend gorgeous views and excellent diving. The hospitality is welcoming, the cuisine more than acceptable and what's more, cheap booze! You could do a lot worse!

Thank you Mike!

Reproduced from in focus 73 (February 2002)

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